Silent Hill: Downpour out this autumn

Plus: First screenshots, gameplay details.

Silent Hill: Downpour, the eighth Silent Hill game, releases this autumn on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Konami has announced.

Czech developer Vatra is at the helm. The story follows convict Murphy Pendleton who, shock horror, begins the game lost and alone in the woods on the outskirts of Silent Hill when his prison transport bus crashes.

According to Konami's senior associate producer Tomm Hulett, Pendleton comes with a lot of baggage.

"Other games have touched upon normal people who have done bad things, or innocent people stumbling on events much bigger than themselves," he said. "But a prisoner is a person you would expect to have a lot of baggage for Silent Hill to exploit. We felt this was an interesting premise that fans could speculate on as they awaited the game. I wouldn't say it was a deliberate attempt to 'play a bad guy' necessarily, but we did have discussions around whether or not people would/could relate to such a character."

With 2009's critically acclaimed Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, weapons were ditched to simulate a feeling of terror and helplessness. This, according to Hulett, is Downpour's aim, too.

"Fear is a tricky thing to get a handle on," Hulett said. "Shattered Memories provided a very important experience in a genre currently dominated by the ability to stand your ground and gun down monsters: helplessness.

"Our goal with Downpour is to then take what we learned, and fold it back seamlessly into a 'core' Silent Hill experience. A standout feature of the old SH games is that you could choose to run from confrontation. However, in most of the games (I'm looking at SH2 here) the enemies were very, very easy to dispatch, so I never ran.

"It made more sense to kill them all instead of worrying about taking damage later. So perhaps in Downpour the stakes might be higher and running at times would be a wise strategic choice."

Outlining how Downpour differs from previous Silent Hill games, Konami producer Devin Shatsky said this time around the troubled town will feature fewer locked doors and more exploration.

"We have this huge city at our disposal, yet in the past, it was comprised primarily of locked doors," he explained.

"We wanted to give players a bit more incentive to search around, and check those doors without facing a constant barrage of discouraging locks. This gives the player a greater sense that they are 'exploring the town' and then rewarded with these mini-stories.

"We've been very careful to keep these immersive enough to make the player feel like they're still a part of the main story, yet separate enough that they aren't forced into completing all of them in a linear fashion to reach the ending."

The game's first screenshots are below.

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